Dispensing of over-the-counter drugs in pharmacies

S. Simó, D. Fraile, A. Sánchez, O. García-Algar

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9 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: In Spain, current legislation does not allow to dispense drugs without medical prescription. There are no drugs totally exempt of producing secondary effects, the inappropriate use of antibiotics may lead to emergent resistances and it causes an unjustified expenditure. Objectives: To determine whether drugs for pediatric use are being dispensed without prescription in Barcelona's pharmacy offices and to compare the results with data collected in 2006. Material and methods: Prospective observational study in which an actress represents a standardized clinical case (mother of a 9 months old baby with upper respiratory tract symptoms and fever). Medication without providing a medical prescription is requested in 50 pharmacies of Barcelona. Dispensation without prescription and the adequacy of health advice offered are recorded. Results: Antibiotics were dispensed without prescription in 8% of the pharmacy offices. No significant differences were founded between 2006 and 2012. Over the counter drugs were dispensed in 26% of cases. The pharmacy staff was not correctly identified in 42% of the pharmacies and derivation to a pediatrician was performed only in 67% of cases. Drug allergies were not interrogated in any of the pharmacies visited. Discussion: Dispensation without prescription persists in Barcelona's pharmacies despite current campaigns and legislation changes. Pharmacy offices do not fully perform their role as health agents and they wrongly indicate the steps to be followed towards a medical problem. Dispensing without prescription must be avoided since it supposes a poorly controlled health risk, it perverts clinical care track, it trivializes drug use and it does not contribute to the population's health education. © 2013 Asociación Espãola de Pediatría. Publicado por Elsevier España, S.L. Todos los derechos reservados.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-14
JournalAnales de Pediatria
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2013


  • Antibiotics
  • Dispensation
  • Pediatrics
  • Pharmacies
  • Prescription


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